• Jumbo-Visma's Primoz Roglic greets Ineos-Grenadiers' Egan Bernal (Velo)Source: Velo
Defending champion Egan Bernal (Ineos-Grenadiers) believes Stage 13 of the 2020 Tour de France will see the race's top contenders ramp up the intensity in what's sure to be a gruelling journey for the peloton.
SBS Cycling Central

11 Sep 2020 - 7:09 AM 

The Colombian finished the 218 kilometre Stage 12 relatively unscathed and in a safe 25th place, firmly maintaining his yellow jersey pursuit as he remains twenty one seconds behind leader Primož Roglič.

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Marc Hirschi put his narrow defeat on Stage 9 of the 2020 Tour de France behind him as he attacked his fellow escapees on the Suc au May climb, descending sweetly to the finish in Sarran.

But that could all be about to change, as the peloton prepares for a nasty second category climb, the Col de Neronne, as part of the 191.5 kilometre ride to Puy Mary in the Massif Central.

"It's not just the climbing, the distance is important too" said Bernal after Stage 12. "I'm expecting some big differences."

Bernal will have an upper hand on Roglič and the rest of the GC hopefuls, revealing he had visited the key climbs prior to this year's Tour.

“We did that recon and neither of them are very long, but they are really hard climbs,” Bernal said. “We’ll have to fight hard. It’s difficult to predict what kind of differences, but we have to be ready.”

While the 23-year-old acknowledged Stage 12 was no walk in the park, he highlighted that it had failed to inspire any serious action between the contenders for the yellow jersey, despite the time bonuses up for grabs on the final climb of the Suc au May.

“Those bonus seconds on the stage could have been part of the game, and we didn’t know if there would be a fight for them or what would happen," Bernal said. "Finally the break took all the bonuses, but there was a lot of hard racing behind as well.”

Whilst none of these bonuses were attained, Bernal was happy for stage winner Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) praising his efforts.

"I think he was in a team with [Ineos-Grenadiers rider] Pavel [Sivakov] a few years ago, I’m very happy for him," Bernal said. "He did a great race.”

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However, when asked about Hirschi's yellow jersey prospects, Bernal highlighted the breadth of the field of potential winners that ensure the race remains wide open heading into Stage 13.

“There is a new generation for sure, with [Tadej] Pogačar, Remco [Evenepoel], Pavel and me," Bernal said. "But other riders who have more experience are in the battle too.”

With that being said, you definitely won't want to miss tonight's stage as this field of contenders gets set for an all out battle on the Col de Neronne that could have huge implications in this year's Tour de France.

The 2020 Tour de France continues with Stage 13, a 191km day in the mountains of the Massif Central, from Châtel-Guyon to Puy Mary Cantal. Watch the race on the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker and SBS On Demand from 7:40pm AEST, with television coverage starting from 9.30 AEST on SBS HD.